Author: Heather Walter
Page Count: 496
Publishing Date/Publisher: April 13, 2021 by Del Ray
Review: I’ve mentioned in previous reviews that I love a good villain origin story, and this is certainly that. It explores the evolution of the tormented becoming the tormentor as the line between “good” and “evil” blurs into non-existence. The author was very clever in how she twisted various elements of Sleeping Beauty adaptations into her story, and by the end, you could fully empathize with Alyce and her descent into darkness. This is a character who really has nothing left to lose, and it is tragic to watch her become the monster that everyone says she is. It really makes you reflect on the power of love, and how it has the capability to both redeem and destroy. It’s frightening to think that one choice can determine which.
My only real criticism of this book is that although the author did a fantastic job building Alyce’s character, Aurora’s character felt a bit flat. I would have liked to see more character development for her because I think it would have added more dimension to her relationship with Alyce.
Title: Tales From the Hinterland
Author: Melissa Albert
Page Count: 240
Series: The Hazelwood, Book 2.5
Publishing Date/Publisher: January 12, 2021 by Flatiron Books
Review: In my glowing review of The Hazel Wood, I mentioned that I hoped for more tales of the Hinterland in the second installment of this series, The Night Country. I was sorely disappointed when this did not happen, but Albert has more than made up for this disappointment by releasing this anthology of dark and fascinating fairy tales. If you were a fan of the first two Hinterland books then this is a must-read. If you have not read the books, but are interested in short stories reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm, then this is a must-read for you as well. If you like stories with happy endings, do not, and I repeat, do NOT pick up this book.
Title: The Night Country
Author: Melissa Albert
Page Count: 331
Series: The Hazel Wood, Book 2
Publishing Date/Publisher: January 7, 2020 by Flatiron Books
Review: This book had a great start and then…stalled out. I ripped through the first few chapters, and then found myself losing steam as nothing really seemed to happen. The first book in this series, The Hazel Wood, was positively magical. I found myself wrapped up in the numerous fairytales and in the overarching storyline. I was hoping for much of the same in the follow up, and although there were some similarities, it wasn’t nearly as engaging as it’s predecessor. It was still dark and twisted, but there were less stories and it focused on a mystery that dragged on before ending abruptly. In the interim of time that has passed between Alice and Finch’s last meeting, Finch has been traveling between worlds. Sadly the reader sees almost none of that. Similarly, years have passed for Alice, but we still have no idea what she is doing aside from moping around. As with many sequels for books I loved, I just expected more than what I got. I am unclear if this is a duology or a series because the ending seemed to be rather definitive. I can’t imagine where the story would go from here, but maybe Albert will surprise me.
Title: The Hazel Wood
Author: Melissa Albert
Performer: Rebecca Soler
Length: 10 hr, 35 min, 25 sec
Series: The Hazel Wood, Book 1
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2018 by MacMillan Audio
Review: This is an example of a fairytale done right. In the same fashion as the Brothers Grimm, Albert weaves together a series of dark and twisted tales with no morals and a whole lot of death. I can honestly say that I never knew what to expect with this story, because it is not an adaptation of anything I am familiar with. It does have echoes of Alice in Wonderland in the sense that a character named Alice portals into a fantasy world; however, that seems to be where the similarities end. I enjoyed the characters, and the dialogue, and the way the author wove together a modern day setting with a more fantastical one. I am also a sucker for stories within a story, and I was very pleased to find out that although this could easily have been a standalone, there will be a continuation of this story in another book. There were a number of story titles mentioned that were not told, and I am hopeful that those stories might be revealed in the next installment. I also hope that there is more to the story of Alice and Finch. Fingers crossed!
As always, Rebecca Soler was a perfect performer in this story. Loved it in audiobook format!
Author: Crystal Smith
Page Count: Unknown
Series: Bloodleaf, Book 1
Publishing Date/Publisher: March 5, 2019 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Review: I found this book to be an enjoyable and quick read. The main character is likeable, and the plot keeps a steady pace.
I did not know prior to reading this book that it is a retelling of a Grimm’s fairytale. After reading the book, I looked up The Goose Girl and read a brief synopsis of the plot and primary characters. My opinion of the book actually went up half a star after doing so, because I thought that the author was very clever in how she incorporated the elements of the fairytale throughout the story. I also liked that the witch hunts and persecution of accused witches was pretty accurate to historical events. This made the story more believable, and gave it an interesting twist.
The reason this book was not quite four stars for me is because I think that the setting and some of the characters, namely Kellan, really needed to be fleshed out more. The plot was well-developed, but it was hard for me to picture events because descriptions of the cities and other locations were not very vivid. As for Kellan, I did not really understand the relationship between him and the main character, Aurelia. I assume his character will get more page time in the next two books, as this is slotted to be a trilogy, but I honestly felt that this book should have been a standalone. The ending provided a lot of closure; so much so that I was actually surprised to find out that the story is going to be extended into two more books.
Title: Thief of Cahraman
Author: Lucy Tempest
Page Count: 322
Series: Fairytales of Folkshore, Book 1
Publishing Date/Publisher: July 21, 2018 by Folkshore Press
Review: I have to say, I am a little bit shocked that this book has received such a high overall rating on Goodreads. I am a big fan of fairytale adaptations, so I am always excited when I see such a highly rated new series in this category. Unfortunately, this did not live up to my expectations. I personally felt that the characters were flat and the story predictable. I always felt that I was several steps ahead, predicting the events that happen chapters before they actually occur. This was partly because the “reveal” set-up was not subtle, and partly because I have read this story before. This book was marketed as “The Selection meets Aladdin”, but I did not realize exactly how similar to The Selection this book would be. This book lost big time originality points with me for this reason, and I have no desire to read the next two books in the trilogy.
On a more positive note, the cover art for this book is gorgeous!
Review: I actually really enjoyed it, but that could be because I don’t read much fiction anymore, so it’s all new-ish for me. While it was predictable, I thought it was well done and I loved the introduction of the other Disney characters. I thought Adelaide was a well-rounded character and I found her motives to be very believable: when you have nothing and then suddenly have friends that are practically family, you would do whatever you could to protect them. You wouldn’t let them be taken from you without a fight. I’ll be reading the rest of the series when they come out.
This is definitely one of the few times Bekah and I don’t agree when it comes to a book; we’re normally on the same page. I think it comes down to the fact that she’s read more fairytale retellings than I have, but she’s given me a list so I can catch up!